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The Nelson Trust was founded in 1985 near Stroud in Gloucestershire by Roy and Mary Brash. The charity began life as a supportive shared residence for people recovering from alcohol addiction, and over a period of a few short years it developed into a residential treatment centre providing a comprehensive programme of care and support for people looking for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
The programme brought together a staff team with a range of specialist therapeutic skills and they developed services which could support people with complex needs including trauma, mental health problems, criminal justice issues and family problems.
Over time, with the generous support of donors and grant-giving trusts, we have developed residential treatment as part of an integrated service with education and training, family work and supported resettlement housing. We have a total of nine residential houses together with a treatment centre, education centre and our administration centre in the Stroud area. The treatment centre is a former school house a short walk from the residential accommodation in the beautiful rural setting of the Cotswolds.
Within the last decade we have developed a specialist residential service for women who have experienced trauma or abuse which is closely associated with substance dependency: women can now undertake a residential programme in safe, supportive and trauma-informed setting with an all-female staff team.
Our innovative work with women who had very complex problems led to recognition in 2009 from the Centre for Social Justice when we won their award for the best organisation working in the field of addiction. This recognition in turn helped us to establish our first Women’s Centre in Gloucester in the same year, providing a “one stop shop” approach to the wide range of problems faced by women in the criminal justice system: Gloucester Women's Centre in turn was recognised in 2013 by the Howard League for Penal Reform when we received an award for the best community service for women. Also in 2013 a Women's Centre was opened in Swindon to serve all of Wiltshire.
Today the Nelson Trust has a national and international reputation as a centre of excellence in the treatment of addiction. Our belief in the capacity for individual change and sustainable recovery based on lifelong abstinence is an approach which was once seen as radical but is today accepted as the most effective evidence-based treatment for people with entrenched and complex substance misuse problems. We provide treatment for more than 200 clients each year from all over Britain and beyond, and together with our work in the local community in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire we work with over a thousand individuals each year.